SUMMARY: For many Christians how we approach sex boils down to one statement – it should happen within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman. While that is a good starting point Christian culture writ large has done an abdominal job of talking and teaching about sex within a Christian framework. Best-selling Christian books such as Every Man’s Battle (4 million copies sold) and Love & Respect (2.2 million copies sold) promote devastating ideas such as sex as a need just for the husband, obligation sex, and seeing women’s bodies as dangerous. Authors Shelia Wray Gregoire, her daughter Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, and Joanna Sawatsky have made it their life’s work to correct that narrative.
The Great Sex Rescue represents data from a survey of 20,000 women, hundreds of hours of academic research, interviews, and focus groups in addition to reading and grading the best-selling Christian books on sex and marriage. The trio’s goal is to identify the destructive Christian narrative around sex and provide the correct, biblical way to approach sex.
Right off the bat, the authors make clear the difference between intercourse and sex. This distinction is important as many of the top-selling Christian books on sex prioritize the husband’s orgasm while giving little, if any, concern to the wife’s pleasure.
“God sees women. God does not say to women, ‘Your experience doesn’t matter compared to your husband’s tremendous need.’ God does not tell women, ‘Let your husband ejaculate inside of you, no matter how you feel, because otherwise you are in disobedience.’ No, God says, ‘I designed sex to be a deep knowing of two people. And that, my child, means that both of you matter.'”
Other destructive prevalent ideas in Christian culture that the trio tackle include women needing to accept men’s sexual sin or accept responsibility for it, the idea that sex should be an obligation and/or entitlement, and lust. Many Christian tend to conflate lust and attraction. This mistake makes men see women as just bodies. Simply put, we must call Christian men to a higher standard.
“What if the real problem with lust is not that it taints the man but it objectifies and dehumanizes those whom Christ values and calls precious?…A more biblical question to ask is, ‘Am I being respectful to this person as an image bearer of Christ?'”
This point is life-giving to those that have grown up in Christin culture. Instead of fearing women or being consumed by lust, men can have a theological view of women. It is okay to notice and appreciate an attractive person (we recommend this liturgy from Every Moment Holy, Vol. 1 as a good starting place), but men should never objectify the individual.
“Defeating lust is not about limiting a man’s encounter with women; it’s about empowering men to treat the women around them as whole people, daughters of Christ. The key to defeating lust is not to avoid looking at women; it’s to actually see them.”
While The Great Sex Rescue is geared towards couples, the debunking of the popular myths surrounding sex in Christian culture coupled with the advice at the end of each chapter where they recommended rephrasing common phrases makes it a must-read for anyone that has grown up in Christian culture.
KEY QUOTE: “For sex to feel intimate, it needs to be about saying, ‘I want you,’ not just ‘I want sex.’ It needs to be about saying, ‘I see you. I choose you. I want to experience something with you, and only you. I want to know you better.’ You is the key world. You are the focus. Sex is not just about me; it’s about me knowing you and building us.”
BONUS: Listen to Wray Gregoire and her daughter Rebecca on the Theology in the Raw podcast.
DID YOU KNOW? Sunday to Saturday has a Good Reads page where we post all of the books we have read – even the ones that didn’t make the cut.
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